Difference Between Soup and Chowder

Chowder is thicker and the thick chowder base is attributed to the ingredients used in the making of the dish. Heavy cream is often used to thicken the consistency of chowder.

Soup vs Chowder

The main difference between soup and chowder is that the consistency of chowder is thicker than the consistency of soup. Chowder is classified as a subtype of the broader category of soups.

Usually, the consistency of a soup is similar to a broth. It is thinner and runnier than chowder. Chowder is known and loved for its thick, chunky consistency that clearly sets it apart from all other types of soups.

Soup vs Chowder

Comparison Table Between Soup and Chowder

Parameters of ComparisonSoupChowder
ConsistencySoups have thinner consistencies than chowders.Chowders have a thicker consistency than soups.
OriginEmerged in America in 1742, with the publication of the first colonial cookbook.Emerged in 1751, in New England, America.
Etymological Origin of the WordThe word soup has been derived from the French word ‘soupe’ that literally translates to ‘soup’.The word chowder has been derived from the French word ‘chaudiere’ meaning the cauldron used by fishermen to cook stews.
Ingredients UsedMost soups are made with a combination of vegetables, meat, and fish. The base of the soup is made with broth.Chowder recipes are quite varied globally. However, thickening elements like cream, flour, and milk are common in most chowder recipes.
Similarities with StewContrary to stews.Very similar to stews. They are simply stews thickened with cream.
Indispensable ElementsThe broth is an indispensable part of soups.Chowders cannot be enjoyed without their chunky bits.

What is Soup?

Soup is a dish prepared by slow-cooking a variety of ingredients in an aromatic, flavorful broth. Vegetables, meat, fish, and spices are the other common ingredients used to prepare soups.

The etymological origin of the term can be traced to the French word ‘soupe’ meaning ‘broth’ or ‘soup’. It was made famous in America in 1742 by the first colonial cookbook published by William Parks.

It is often used as an umbrella term that surmises a variety of other subcategories within itself, including creamy soups or chowders. Broadly soups can be classified into 2 categories- thin and thick soups.

A significant variety of soups are available worldwide, differing in terms of the ingredients used in their preparation.

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What is Chowder?

Chowder is a subcategory of soup extremely popular among foodies globally. It is a chunkier version of the usual soups.

The thickness of the chowder is derived from the cream, milk, or flour used in its preparation.

The word has been derived from the French term ‘chaudiere’ meaning the large cauldrons used by French fishermen to prepare stews. Hence, chowders are often called thickened stews.

Chowders were popularized in America from the New England region and the ‘New England Clam Chowder’ still remains one of the fan favorites in the country.

Much like soups, chowders also have diverse region-specific recipes. Some recipes also use tomatoes as well as ship biscuits in the preparation of chowder.

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Main Differences Between Soup and Chowder

  1. The main difference between soup and chowder is that the former has a much thinner consistency than the latter. Although chowder is a variant of the soup category, the consistency of chowder is evidently thicker than most other soups.
  2. The second difference between the two delicacies can be noted in terms of the ingredients used to prepare each. Soups mainly consist of broth along with vegetables, meat, or fish. Broth ensures that the consistency of a soup remains thin.
  3. Chowder is prepared with the use of cream, potatoes, saltine crackers, ship biscuits, and flour. Different regions of the world have different ways of making chowder, but the constant remains the thick consistency of the dish due to the ingredients listed.
  4. Each of these dishes has a diverse historical point of origin. Soups arrived in America much earlier than chowder. Soups made their debut among the Americans in 1742 with the publication of William Park’s first colonial cookbook.
  5. However, chowder, originally popularized as Clam Chowder, had its advent in America later in 1751 in the New England region.
  6. The etymological roots of each of these terms are also significantly different. While the word soup originates from the French word ‘soupe’ meaning ‘soup’ or ‘broth’, the word chowder emerged from the French term ‘chaudiere’ that connotes a large cauldron in which fishermen often cooked their stews.
  7. The broth remains an indispensable part of any soup. The chunky parts of the dish are the distinguishing feature of chowder.
  8. However, soups cannot be imagined without the aroma and flavor-infused broth.
  9. Soups are very different from stews. Chowders are stews thickened with the addition of cream or milk.
Difference Between Soup and Chowder


Soup and chowder are both favorites among the American populace. As a subcategory of the myriad varieties of soups available globally, chowder is a beloved dish among foodies.

However, there exist important differences between the two dishes.

The consistency of the two is exactly contrary to one another. While soups are primarily broth-based and thus have a runny consistency, chowders are much thicker than most soups.

Unlike soups, the liquid content of chowders is limited. This is because of the different ingredients used in these two dishes.

While most soups are produced by changing the combination of vegetables, meat, or fish used, chowders have a larger gambit of variety in terms of ingredients.

However, cream, flour, and milk are some of the most common ingredients added in the preparation of chowders to achieve the coveted thick consistency of chowders.

Chowders are simply stews that have been thickened with the addition of cream. Soups are very different from stews.

Moreover, soups cannot be imagined without their hallmark aromatic broth-base. Chowders, contrarily cannot be imagined without the chunky bits of flavorful elements.

These differences are subtle but important. In order to enjoy each dish to its fullest one must be aware of these differentiations.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24242278
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938404004482
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